Given the circumstances, the first half figures published yesterday by leading innovative chemical technology company Avantium were, all told, very reasonable.
In the first half of 2020, Avantium’s total revenues and other income increased from €7.1 million in HY 2019 to €8.8 million. Consolidated first half year other income increased from €1.9 million to €4.5 million, due to higher grant recognition resulting from three newly awarded grant programmes (PEFerence, IMPRESS and ERDF). Grant recognition improved in all business units with Renewable Chemistries at €1.6 million, Renewable Polymers at €0.8 million and Catalysis at €0.1 million.
First half year revenues decreased from €5.2 million to €4.3 million, of which € 0.6 million of the decrease relates to Avantium Catalysis. Over the last half year, as a direct result of the COVID-19 outbreak, travel restrictions hampered the Catalysis business, with personnel unable to travel to customers to install and maintain the Flowrence systems.
Operating expenses decreased to €15.7 million (HY 2019: €16.4 million including a €0.7 million one- time cost for an onerous contract). Depreciation, amortisation & impairment charges increased by to €1.0 million due to growth investments.
Total EBITDA went up from €-9.3 million in the first half of 2019 to €-6.9 million in the first half of 2020. The EBITDA of Catalysis increased slightly as a result of cost control and an increase in other income from government grants. The higher EBITDA of Avantium Renewable Chemistries and Renewable Polymers was mainly due to other income from several government grants.
The net result for the first half year of 2020 is €-11.0 million (HY 2019: €-12.6 million).
Key business developments in the first half of 2020 included continued work towards taking an investment decision by the end of 2020 on the construction of a FDCA flagship plant, that is planned to start-up in 2023. Avantium estimates the total funding need of the flagship plant to be approximately €150 million. The goal is to have the financing for the construction and start- up of the flagship plant in place before the end of 2020.
The first half of 2020 also saw Avantium Renewable Chemistries successfully completing the commissioning and start-up of its plant-based MEG (mono-ethylene glycol) demonstration plant.
Tom van Aken, Chief Executive Officer of Avantium, comments: “We have focused our efforts on the execution of our strategy of commercialising our plants-to-plastics technologies. We continue to work towards making an investment decision on the FDCA flagship plant by the end of the year, and our plant-based MEG demonstration facility is now operating. With three pilot plants operational we have made good progress in developing and diversifying our business. We have recorded somewhat lower revenues in our Catalysis business, and we have taken steps to offset this by effectively managing our cash without loss of focus or compromising our progress.
The health and safety of our employees, partners and contractors has been our top priority throughout the coronavirus pandemic. We adopted stringent measures early on to minimise the risks of transmission. In the first half of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had limited impact on our business.”